Texas-style barbecue sizzles as new owner takes over Dave’s Forest Dale Grocery

Todd Lagendyk, new owner of Dave’s Forest Dale Grocery, checks his grill last Saturday as he smoked over 200 pounds of meat for area residents to try his barbecue.

Inside of his 30-foot homemade food trailer, with the refrigerators humming and the enticing smell of garlic thick in the air, Todd Lagendyk slices up some juicy steaks and brisket as he talks about the spices and rubs he uses before the meat ever hits the grill.

“Just a salt, pepper and a garlic dry rub and then you smoke it until it’s tender,” the new owner of Dave’s Grocery in Forest Dale said, as if that’s all there is to it. “People always ask how long you cook it for or what temperature, but the truth is there’s no set it and forget method. Different meats take different times to get tender.”

Lagendyk can talk Texas barbecue with the best of them.

He and his wife, Maribeth, bought the general store next to the Post Office in Forest Dale back in April. Since then they have been packing, moving and getting prepared to take over the operation as of August 1.

“There’s going to be a lot of time involved,” Lagendyk said about running the grocery. “It will take dedication to make it successful.”

Although this is the 28-year-old’s first attempt at a retail grocery store, he said he is prepared to put in the work. And he is thrilled to get to do it in Vermont.

“Almost anyone can make a good brisket, but it’s all the little details you learn along the way that you use to make a phenomenal brisket.”

Todd Lagendyk

“My wife is from Rutland and we always knew we wanted to end up here,” the Rochester, N.Y., native said. “But as a machinist, the only place (to get a job) that was really an option was GE (General Electric), but we didn’t want to get up here and then potentially get laid off.”

So he and his wife started looking for other business opportunities in the state and what they found was Dave’s Grocery and the Brandon Revolving Loan Fund.

With a loan from the town, Lagendyk was able to purchase the store. Now, he is almost ready to take over the reins. Although the actual grand opening won’t be until Aug. 3, this past weekend he prepared a little taste for around 80 guests that he invited from the area.


So call it a soft opening, call it a warm-up, but the smell of burning maple logs and big slabs of brisket inching slowly towards perfection was in the air in Forest Dale on Saturday and Lagendyk’s name and Texas barbecue were on the tongues of every guest there.

“The food is delicious,” Brandon selectman Tim Guiles told me. “You’re in for a treat.”

The former machinist said that although he does pulled pork, ribs and turkey, the brisket is really the star of this show.

“In Texas, if you’re not doing brisket, you might as well not even barbecue,” he said.

Although a New York native, his work as a machinist took him to Texas for the past five years where he developed a passion for grilling and brisket. Now the owner of the local grocery store, Lagendyk’s real passion is barbecue.

“My first date with my wife was at a barbecue joint,” he said, adding that they both loved barbecue and went out several times. “It got expensive to go out for barbecue so I bought a $20 kettle grill and started grilling at home.”

Six months later, smitten by the joy of barbecuing, he started working on his big smoker trailer. The main section, where the meat goes, is made out of a 1,000-gallon propane tank that he cut four doors into and fixed racks inside. Standing four feet wide and twenty feet long, you could smoke hundreds of pounds of meet in there at once.

The monster of a smoke machine took six months to build and after he built it, he bought a trailer and mounted it before building an enclosure that put a roof over the top and a screen around the outside.

“I like the peaceful, long nights that barbecuing gives you, it’s very time consuming,” Brandon’s new pit master said. “Almost anyone can make a good brisket, but it’s all the little details you learn along the way that you use to make a phenomenal brisket.”

Lagendyk makes his own sauce for his meat, but he leaves it up to the customer to put it on.

“I spend so much time getting that meat tender and delicious, I want people to taste the meat,” he said. “When people put sauce on their meat before they grill it, I almost feel like they’re trying to hide something.”


Although he’s only been in town for a few weeks, the area has made a good impression.

“I love the Brandon community, they’re so welcoming and friendly,” he said. “It really has that wonderful small town feel.”

This trial run of his barbecue trailer was just for a few people around town that he’s met so far and invited, but he hopes to soon be smoking every weekend. He also hires out for special events.

“In a few weeks we are doing GE; we’re cooking for 800 people there,” Lagendyk said, adding that he loves the challenge of cooking for large groups. “The week after we are doing the Vermont Cornhole Championship in Brandon.”

In the store, he will sell maple-smoked deli meats that he smokes himself, including roast beef and turkey. He makes his own sides for the barbecue trailer, which he hopes to have open at least one weekend a month. The sides will be sold in the store as well and include Cabot sharp cheddar mac and cheese and cheddar-jack grits and more traditional barbecue sides like potato salad and coleslaw. Lagendyk also makes his own pickles and pickled onions.

But barbecuing is clearly his passion. He can go on for hours about the best way to prepare meat, what wood to use and how to get the most flavor out of a brisket. Yes, Lagendyk can definitely talk Texas barbecue with the best of them, and when it comes to authentic flavor he can also grill with the best of them as well, a fact that area residents will soon be able to taste for themselves.

“It’s nice to have all the people out to see what it is we’re doing,” he said. “I really hope people will enjoy it.”

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